Recommended resource below – Podcast or video format “Ukraine and Russia: History and the the Theology of Nationalism”
Let me take a moment to set up what I’m commending to you, as your time is valuable. I will not pretend to fully understand the situation in Eastern Europe between Russia and Ukraine.
To my own detriment, I tend to see everything from my limited American historical lens. We Americans tend to believe that world history revolves around American history. American history is very important. However, American history is set within a much larger historical context of world history which is equally important.
Nations are important to God
As a thinking Christian, I must understand that there are theological undercurrents that shape events, cultures and nations as well. The situation in Ukraine did not arrive out of thin air. It is hundreds of years in the making. That said, we have an opportunity. We can recover a theology of nations. “Nations” (Gk. ἔθνος, ους, τό – ethnos) is mentioned throughout the Bible. It’s where we get the English word ‘ethnicity.’ The notion of nations distinguishes people of a common culture, common customs, and typically a geographic location (Samaria, Canaan, Rome, etc). So, nations must be important to God.
Cultural Movements in history and ideas that shape them
Furthermore, the events and cultural movements we are witnessing today have historical pathologies. Events are caused by preceding events which are caused by preceding events, and so on.
People have ideas that create and shape cultures – ideas shape histories. Sometimes those ideas are good, like the invention of the telephone. Sometimes those ideas are bad, like Hitler’s ‘Final Solution’.
We live in an unprecedented historical cultural moment of a connected world. As I’ve said in a previous post, our devices bring the horrible situation in Ukraine into the palms of our hands in realtime. As usual, there is no shortage of ideas being put forth by politicians, pundits, technocrats, celebrities, and others as possible ‘solutions’ to the conflict. But, are those ‘good’ ideas? Do the people pushing those solutions thoroughly understand the problems?
Benefits of wisdom in this historical moment
My good friend wisdom tells me to pause and try to understand the bigger historical situation in order to better understand the current moment. This action offers several benefits. First, I actually turn off media and turn on learning. Second, I’m seeking to understand a situation by diving into the history leading up to it. Third, I remember that these geopolitical events are usually way more complex than I imagined. Forth, I remember that over-simplistic, one-size-fits-all solutions sound good but typically cause more harm than good. Finally, I have a greater appreciation for the current moment when I understand the history leading up to it.
Recommended resource well worth your time
With the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, it is a good time for a history lesson. I commend to you a very insightful and well-guided discussion. You’ll glean valuable information and enjoy learning some of the history of the Ukraine – Russia situation in order to better understand it.
Below is a link to a podcast (or video if you prefer) that provides some historical insights into what is going on. Dr Glenn Sunshine is a history professor emeritus at Central Connecticut State University, a Research Fellow of the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, an associate at Reflections Ministries, founder of Every Square Inch Ministries, a theologian, and a Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Previously, he taught at Calvin College and was a visiting professor at the Universität der Bundeswehr-Hamburg (now Helmut Schmidt University) in Germany. He is also an adjunct professor at Ostroh University in Ukraine with family roots in the region. I trust Dr. Sunshine’s historical analysis and theological perspective.
Theology Pugcast: “Ukraine and Russia: History and the Theology of Nationalism”
“With the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, Glenn thought it a good time for a history lesson on Ukraine and Russia. As you might expect, he started over 1000 years ago, but noted especially more recent history and why the Ukrainians want to get out from under Russian domination. Along the way, he noted some genuine problems with Ukraine and their treatment of Russian minorities, part and parcel of the messy way borders work in Central and Eastern Europe. The guys finish with a discussion of the theological significance of nations, noting that they seem to survive in a purified form into eternity.”